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The Sound of Ideas

Lessons from Girls’ Schools

Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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In many ways, we're in an age of gender equity: after all, a female justice is poised to ascend to the supreme court, and women both begin and complete college at higher rates than men. But when it comes to tests and schools, some problems remain. Consider the stereotype that girls don't do as well as boys in math: the mere reminder of it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy for girls facing a math test. Some local girls schools are turning that around and turning their students into scientists. Join us Tuesday morning at 9, for lessons we all can learn from girls schools.


Education, Other, Parenting/Child Care


Lisa Damour Co-Director, Center For Research on Girls
Ann Klotz Head of School, Laurel School
Toni Miller Principal Douglas MacArthur-Girls Leadership Academy

Additional Information

During the program, a listener--Ramona from Lorain Community College--called in to tell us about her summer program that teaches girls to weld. Check out her video for yourself.

Leave a Comment

Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.

Nancy 9:30 AM 7/14/09

Education has failed all students by allowing students to be afraid of failure and to avoid things that are difficult. I am not sure what data your guests are using.  Many medical schools are over 50% female as are many of the other sciences.  I feel we should be putting are efforts into the stereo typing in business and administrative positions.  How many PhD females are not promoted merely due to their sex.  This all comes from a psychologist who has spent her life looking at learning and how the brain works.

Lourdes Sanchez 9:39 AM 7/14/09

My daughter always leaned towards artistic expression. At Laurel she was able to take Math/Sciences without intimidation. During her first term in college she took Math Logic. One of her comments was “I never knew what sexism was really about” She now understands that the world of Math and abstractions is not so far removed from the world of Arts and philosophy

Amy Driscoll 9:40 AM 7/14/09

When does the gender of the teacher affect/effect the outcome of a girl’s exploration of possibilities?  My daughter in the 8th grade was exploring science and loving it with a great female science teacher.  She was a stand out student and a science fair participant.  The very next year, she entered a biology program with a male teacher ..within weeks she was made to feel stupid, and less than.  He didn’t do this to all the girls but several of the successful girls made the same comments my daughter did. The school told us we could not change teachers.  He destroyed her desire, her excitement and her passion.

Susan Cady, Tai Chi for Health 9:43 AM 7/14/09

Please share this suggestion with your guests:  (I am currently teaching tai chi at Berea Childrens’ Home) Please consider offering Mind/Body/Brain Training using Tai Chi for Health which awakens concentration, focus, and interest in the structures of the human body from a non-western perspective.  Research exists with Boston middle school children.  You are most refreshing educators !!

Nonie Bailey 9:53 AM 7/14/09

I am the librarian at Douglas MacArthur and Warner Girls’ Leadership Academies. My husband and I were both educated in single gender schools. My husband, two daughters and I live in the city of Cleveland and our daughters received a solid educational foundation in the gifted and talented program at Benjamin Franklin K-8 in the district. I wish the girls’ academies were in existence when our girls were in elementary school! However, both girls are taking advanced placement classes at St. Joseph Academy in West Park. My husband and I send kudos to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

As the librarian at both girls’ schools, I make sure to not only promote literacy, but to help the girls explore their interests in how the world works. It’s funny, I tell parents visiting the library that I have two biological daughters and about 300 daughters at school! I love my job!

Gail Holtz 10:01 AM 7/14/09

I am responding to the program on Tuesday, July 14th in which you had two individuals from Laurel School and one from an all girls CMSD school.  My concern as an educator in an independent coed school is that you provided a very skewed view of education and it became an advertisement for all-girls schools.  Much is being done in public schools and independent coed schools to meet the needs of girls, to promote their interest and skill in math, technology and science and to open their eyes to all the possibilities available when they enter the workforce. 

Why would you not include professionals from coed environments to respond to the question of how to provide quality education and inspiration for girls to enter S.T.E.M. fields?  Quality programs exist beyond the single sex girls schools and which provide more of a balanced exposure to the “real world”.

Having listened to the program I would struggle to find what we learned about educating girls.  It became a sales pitch for girl’s schools.  As a supporter of this station I am surprised that your guests did not represent a more diverse perspective of how to address this important question.

Jeanne Marie Christian 10:27 AM 7/14/09

I am a 54 yr old woman who worked 13 years in healthcare from 1973 to 1986. At that time, I saw as many women MD residents as men in the medical center that I worked. I now work in Higher Education and teach entry level Math courses.
What I have experienced is young women who have been ALLOWED to use their gender as an excuse to not perform well in math and science. Even on tours, I will hear a Mother say she wasn’t good in math so it is OK that her daughter is not.
You do not see this with all cultures but I do not want to continue to perpetuate stereotypes from that perspective either. If we want to eliminate the perpetuation of stereotypes we have to change the mind set of parents that a raising young women with attitudes from the 1950s.

Lana Bogusz 10:31 AM 7/14/09

As I listened to the program I felt one main issue was only lightly touched.  My daughter attends Douglas MacArthur Girls Leadership Academy and what impresses me about single gender education is the way the girls blossom in the single gender setting.  Girls are more confident and more willing to try difficult things and take risks and because of this they attain much higher successes. The issue is not one of girls/women being treated equally nor is it that women should dominate all fields.  To me, what I love about the school, is that the girls get the chance to be their best, most confident self and as a parent I believe that can take my daughter farther in the world, wherever she goes, than any subject that is taught.


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